Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Talents Are Stepping up to the Mic at Local Clubs and Lounges

Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Silverman, and Jeff Goldblum, just to name a few.

It's not just aspiring actors and unemployed dreamers who perform at the city’s comedy clubs and speakeasies. Big-time celebrities and movie stars also seek outlets for their passions at some of Hollywood’s most storied institutions, which makes a night on the town here unlike anywhere else in the world.

Singer-songwriter (and longtime Paul Thomas Anderson collaborator) Jon Brion’s Friday night residency at Largo put the nightclub on the cultural map. Today the hot spot hosts an array of up-and-coming music and comedy acts as well as surprise appearances by such big names as Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Silverman, and Judd Apatow. More recently, Orange Is the New Black showrunner Jenji Kohan rehabbed the Hayworth Theater, which now hosts Dynasty Typewriter, an eclectic rotation of comedians anchored by a (more or less) weekly live recording of Rick and Morty showrunner Dan Harmon’s popular podcast.

If you want to feel this city’s cinematic pulse, grab dinner and margaritas at classic Mexican restaurant El Coyote before catching what’s playing at the New Beverly Cinema. Both places had sly cameos in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. That’s because Quentin Tarantino took over the old-school cinema in 2007 after it had served for years as L.A.’s unofficial film school thanks to expertly curated art house double bills. If you’re still jonesing for a Hollywood fix, swing by Formosa Cafe for a nightcap: Newly reopened, Formosa has been the watering hole of choice for disgruntled screenwriters and out-of-work actors since the studio era.

Contrary to the popular belief that Hollywood has a monopoly on creativity, Downtown’s Arts District has long been a beacon for those with non-celluloid dreams. For vinyl junkies, there’s kissaten-style listening bar In Sheep’s Clothing. The house rule is never to speak above whatever’s playing on the custom-built hi-fi system—a rule that is pleasant to obey as you sip vermouth on the rocks while escaping the omnipresent Southern California sun.

The quintessential L.A. experience is catching a star doing a set at a cozy neighborhood joint. That’s hard to plan, but look for Jeff Goldblum’s semiregular gig at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz. When he’s not playing jazz piano, the actor stirs the crowd with his eccentric showmanship, ranging from games like Would You Rather? to his meta-IMDb romp Six Degrees of Jeff Goldblum. Afterward, head to Tiki-Ti, the city’s last great tiki bar. Family-owned since 1961, this tropical hole-in-the-wall mixes just about every permutation of rum conceivable.